For Michigan National, Improved Service Is the Driving Force Behind Innovations
Fioravante, Janice, American Banker
It wasn't until retail executives at Michigan National Bank were convinced that imaging technology would improve customers service that they decided to buy into the idea of image statements.
That's because the more frequently touted benefits of sending image statements -- namely reduced paper handling and lower postage bills -- were already facts of life for this $10.6 billion-asset bank. Some 80% of the bank's checking accounts customers receive truncated checks.
But the bank's retail executives loved the opportunity to be first in the region to offer image statements, where 10 reduced-size images of checks are put on a single 8 1/2-by-11-inch sheet of paper and mailed with each customer's monthly statement.
Customers Respond Well
"We're beginning to convert customers who have been used to returned checks," said Charles Kight, executive vice president in charge of Michigan National's retail banking and operations/information systems.
"They say storing the sheets instead of bulky checks is easier and that it should make income-tax time a bit less harrowing, especially when itemizing deductions.
More specifically, about 50% of new account holders are electing image statements over returned checks or truncated statements, said Jerry Bettens, Michigan National's project manager of image statements. Most of the others are choosing truncated statements.
About 15% of retail checking customers now receive image statements.
Mr. Kight said that he's looking to future used for the bank's image processing equipment to bring productivity and cost savings benefits.
Working Out the Bugs
"Passing the image among banks is another benefit we expect to reap when costs of compressing and communicating come down," he added.
As to any problems that had to be overcome, Mr. Bettens said, "We have had to work through bugs in the prereleased software coding, but that's expected."
The banks sees image statements as just the beginning of a new may of dealing with checks in general.
Said Mr. Kight, "I'm looking forward to the future when a customer can make a deposit to one of our branches and we'll send an image to the receiving bank. …